Lisa Kilbourne-Smith, 23, and James Davis, 24, were watching Tink the hamster for a friend on the Thursday before Easter when they found her apparently dead in her cage.
After breaking the sad news to Tink's owner, the Stroud, Gloucestershire couple wrapped the tiny body in a paper towel roll and gave her a proper burial in the garden.
Except Tink wasn't dead. The next day, Tink managed to eat her way through the paper towel roll, dig up through a foot of dirt, climb a pipe and land in a recycling box, where she survived a frigid Easter huddled in a cardboard cat food box.
Kilbourne-Smith's dad, Les, found Tink when he was crushing the boxes to recycle.
"Suddenly a little face popped out of one of them which gave me a big startle I can assure you," he said. "We’ve nicknamed her Jesus because it was Easter when she came back from the dead."
"It’s amazing that she survived. She’d been out in that freezing cold all night -- it was a good 24 hours."
Of course, Tink wasn't actually dead. Experts told the Stroud News and Journal she had gone into hibernation, where the body temperature drops and makes the animal appear dead.
"I’m amazed by this hamster," said veteranarian John Auld, of the Aspinall Auld and Stevenson Animal Hospital in Abbeydale, Gloucester. "The animal’s body temperature would have had to have risen to rouse it from hibernation."
"With the temperatures we experienced over Easter, one would think that the ground would have been far too cold for it to come out of its dormant state."
As for Tink, she seems to be just fine.
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